While checking unanswered beamer questions (which are about 280 at the moment with little activity), I found this question.

The OP requests in this question something that seems to be a very bad practice (at least to me). I know defining a so-called bad practice can be tricky, and I am probably not experienced enough to tell if something is a bad practice in LaTeX, but David Carlisle seems to agree on this one so I will trust his judgment.

So let's admit it's a bad practice.

Due to the fact that the OP requests a bad practice, I believe the question is unlikely to receive more than comments stating this is a bad idea.

The question is : What to do with this question?

  • Should it remain open so that someone can answer, and therefore comply to the OP's demand? With the risk to encourage bad practices. Or nobody will answer and it will remain open forever.
  • Should it be closed by the community, if enough people recognize it's a bad practice?

As often, this may be a duplicate / recurring question, but I could not find previous posts on this matter.

  • 5
    I think that the first option is the way to go. Leave a comment that you think that this is bad practice, along with an explanation why you think so. If such a comment already exists, upvote it.
    – user194703
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:02
  • 3
    There are a couple of duplicates, e.g. tex.stackexchange.com/questions/326787/… which show how do shoot oneself in the foot but also warn about that it will hurt Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:33
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    Happy to see you back @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz, we need help with beamer ! ^^. Also thanks for the duplicates !
    – BambOo
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:44
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    @BambOo Thanks, but I'm no longer active on the main site. I'm just here for watching the number of unanswered beamer questions grow from 50 last year :) Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:50
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz, I am trying to lower a bit this number, but I am afraid I am far less experienced than you. I use beamer a lot, but not enough yet it seems. Also there are a lot of unanswered yet old questions, which I don't really know what to do with
    – BambOo
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:54
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    @BambOo Good luck with this endeavour! Commented May 12, 2020 at 17:00
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    @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz, thanks I feel a bit alone sometimes when I track this tag ^^
    – BambOo
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 17:00
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    @BambOo yeah, that's expected Commented May 12, 2020 at 17:08

4 Answers 4


There are four main grounds for closing questions on the site:

  1. Off topic
  2. Too broad
  3. Opinion based
  4. Duplicate

Given these reasons, there are no grounds to close questions that are asking for bad practice, since such questions don't meet any of the criteria for closure assuming they aren't duplicates of another such question. Or unless of course, they're bad practice like "How do I do this in MSWord?", in which case they are off topic. :)

So the best thing to do is to leave comments, or even better post an answer explaining why the practice is bad, and what would be better alternative. This is the most productive kind of response I think.

If someone provides an answer that promotes the bad practice, then comments should also be made about why it's a bad idea, and perhaps in certain circumstances downvotes. I wouldn't downvote the question for asking about a bad practice, however, just an answer that promotes it. Of course some bad practices are a matter of opinion, and this is why explanations of why you think it's bad (especially if specific problems can be shown) are important. And since we don't generally downvote very much on the site generally, downvoting should be reserved for answers that are literally wrong or that will pose demonstrable problems for users who adopt them.

  • 3
    I agree, except on the downvoting part. While the answer should say that it is a bad practice, it does answer the question at hand, so leaving a comment informing readers and the person who wrote the answer that it is a bad practice is sufficient. Personally I might upvote someone explaining how to do it in a non-recommended way, just because I learned something.
    – mazunki
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 23:54
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    @mazunki I agree which is why I said ‘perhaps’. Although I probably wouldn’t upvote answers which promote bad practice. But once and a while downvotes are needed. There’s generally not a lot of downvoting on the site generally.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 23:57
  • Please do not get me wrong, but isn't your argument circular? The OP is asking whether one should close posts that ask bad practice, meaning, of course, whether asking for bad practice is a reason for closure. Now you are saying "There are no grounds to close questions that are asking for bad practice, since such questions don't meet any of the criteria for closure." To me this is circular. Needless to say that I agree with the overall conclusion of your answer except maybe for the downvote part, as this is pretty much in line with my answer.
    – user194703
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 18:24
  • @Schrödinger'scat Of course it's not circular. The criteria for closure are pretty much laid out. (i) Too broad (ii) opinion based (iii) Off topic (iv) Duplicate. So asking a narrow enough question about how to do something using TeX but that people think is a bad idea doesn't fall into any of those categories. So such questions shouldn't be closed. This is more or less the question version of "Should bad answers be flagged as 'not an answer'?". And similarly, the answer to that question is no, bad answers meet the criteria of being answers, and voting should sort out the good from the bad.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 18:31
  • There is the fifth possibility of giving community-specific reasons to close a question, which is an option that is used very often. So to me it is circular. And to distinguish good from bad posts does not imply the necessity to downvote.
    – user194703
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 18:34
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    I've downvoted 54 times out of more than 9000 votes in 9 years, so I'm not really an active downvoter, but they do have their place. And the other reasons to close are usually versions of what used to be the "too localized" closure reason that disappeared, e.g. solved in the comments, user typo, update system etc.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 18:43
  • 1
    Well, more users seem to vote for your answer. The only difference in suggestion what to do from my earlier answer is the downvote, so one interpretation is that they like that. That's fine, I'll nevertheless stick with my opinion that one should not prominently mention downvotes here as they often do more harm than good.
    – user194703
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 19:11
  • The real problem I have with this kind of reasoning is that you there is no logic, at least none that I can follow. I say that your later answer only adds the downvotes to my earlier post, and then you tell me that you do not downvote that much. How is that relevant? This post is not about any of us, it is a general question.
    – user194703
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 23:23
  • @Schrödinger'scat I think here we've just misunderstood each other. I understood your comment to mean that the only difference between my answer and yours was the fact that I mentioned downvoting and you didn't. So I defended limited downvoting if an answer promoted a demonstrably bad practice. I don't see how downvoting has anything to do with these particular meta posts, since neither of us had received any downvotes although it seems my answer now has one.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 3:09

Since the question is a question to the community, it may make sense to add the various options in answers so that users can vote on them. This answer reflects my opinion, which is

If you think the post suggests some bad practice, leave a comment in which you point out that you think there is a problem with the suggestion, and explain why. Do not close the post.

Of course, if a comment of this sort already exists, you may just upvote it.

I think "bad practice" is an opinion-based assertion. One should not close post for this reason. Maybe someone has an intelligent answer that avoids all, or at least most of, the complications.

Needless to say that, since this is opinion-based, not everyone may agree on whether a given suggestion is to be called "bad practice". So one has to also be a bit careful with such comments, they may get misinterpreted as picking on others. One has to weigh the positive effect of warning others that a suggestion may have unfortunate side effects against the effect critical comments may have on the OP.


Since I'm named in the question I suppose I should give an answer.

I don't see any reason for closing other than closing as duplicate if that's the case.

I commented that it's probably a bad idea but I don't agree with your assertion that such a question would get multiple comments saying the same thing: why would anyone do that?

As with any question people should answer if they feel motivated to do so and if not, just move on and answer a different question.

These kind of meta discussion questions never actually have any effect as they neither change the behaviour of people asking such questions (that would be hard as presumably people don't think what they are asking for is a bad idea) and they don't change the behaviour of people who may or may not potentially answer the question.


I’m not familiar with the specific question, but in general: I would answer with a polite frame challenge, giving a better alternative—and if that’s not possible, is it really such a bad practice?

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